Storytime and Beyond

Having Fun with Early Literacy

by Kathy Barco and Melanie Borski-Howard


Techniques for encouraging literacy through fun, imaginative, and musical storytimes.

Print Flyer
Cover image for Storytime and Beyond

October 2018

Libraries Unlimited

Pages 141
Volumes 1
Size 8 1/2x11
Topics Children's and Young Adult Programs/Reading Promotion and Literacy
  Librarian's Instructional Role/Teaching Resources, K-12

Join the world of balloons, pancakes, and musical instruments—just a few items that can help to improve early literacy in the library, in the classroom, and at home. Literacy builders covered range from music and instruments to magnetic letters, alphabet beads, and even food.

Literacy is a popular topic of discussion among librarians. Especially important is "early literacy," what children know about reading and writing before they can actually read and write. In this book, experienced librarians Kathy Barco and Melanie Borski-Howard share hands-on techniques that they have used to successfully promote early literacy and encourage family involvement.

Storytime and Beyond teaches readers how to use "literacy doodads"—inexpensive props that add excitement to storytimes and can be used outside the library or classroom—to enhance the basic components of any early literacy program: talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing. Many of the doodads can be created as family do-it-yourself projects, and some can be adapted to work with non-readers of any age. Instruments can also be a great way to get children's attention and teach literacy skills, whether it's a drum to beat while reading a story or a maraca for children to shake during a song, and lesson plans for musical storytimes address how to use rhythm, singing, and dancing to make early literacy fun.


  • Teaches librarians how to use storytimes to build literacy skills in pre-readers of all ages
  • Outlines all of the steps necessary to carry out pre-literacy storytimes, displays, and outreach activities with photos, examples, and instructions for librarians and families
  • Offers ideas for using inexpensive "doodads," especially those including letters of the alphabet, to build literacy skills
  • Details how the musical and nonmusical can add musical elements to storytime to improve literacy
  • Provides tips for engaging caretakers in storytime so that children may continue learning at home
Author Info

Kathy Barco is a freelance library consultant, having retired as literacy coordinator at Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library System. She was a children's librarian with ABC Library and served five years as youth services coordinator for New Mexico State Library. Barco has coauthored three books with Valerie Nye: True Stories of Censorship Battles in America's Libraries, Breakfast Santa Fe Style, and Breakfast New Mexico Style. Her book READiscover New Mexico: A Tri-Lingual Adventure in Literacy won a 2008 New Mexico Book Award. She received her MLIS from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Melanie Borski-Howard has been leading storytimes for more than 20 years. She is currently a youth services specialist at Boulder Public Library, in Boulder, Colorado, where she leads four to five storytimes a week and stars in the showRead With Us, a monthly television show produced and aired by Boulder's local television station, Channel 8. Borski-Howard has taught creative writing to teens and is a member of the Colorado Library Association and Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy.



"What a great resource! The authors are passionate about their subject—making reading fun. I can't imagine a better way to bring books alive."—Janet Stevens, Award-winning author and illustrator of Tops and Bottoms as well as numerous other children's books

"As an educator, hooking individuals of all levels on literacy is my highest priority. When the world of reading opens up and sparks a fire inside, my job is accomplished. I can hardly wait to use many of the ideas in this book as kindling!"—Camille Falconer, MEd, High School Special Education at E.H. Miller School

"These inspired book zealots make their creative, brilliant, practical approaches to literacy as easy as ABC. A fun must-have for anyone sharing books with children."—Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, Award-winning author of many books, including Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal, and veteran children's librarian

"Storytime and Beyond is unique in scope, and the authors' enthusiasm shines through in every word. I would recommend this resource to new youth librarians and literacy coaches, but the coverage of alphabet books, props, and musical storytimes make it just as valuable for established professionals. This book puts decades of storytime and early literacy experience at your fingertips."—Amadee Ricketts, Director, Cochise County Library District (AZ) and author, Gentle Hands and Other Sing-Along Songs for Social-Emotional Learning

"Finally, an early literacy manual that is not just a list of books, but a how-to guide with practical, useful ideas to pair with new books and beloved storytime favorites. The conversational style of the manual makes me feel like I am sitting in my living room swapping storytime and program ideas with the authors. This is a manual for everyone—no fancy degree or years of experience required to use or understand it."—Patty A. Collins, Youth Services and Programming Consultant, Central Kansas Library System

"A fun, hands-on guide to turning even the most reluctant reader into a bookworm."—Marissa Moss, Award-winning author of Amelia's Notebook

"Barco and Borski-Howard have written a winning, diverse, creative, and tested early literacy guide! Their commitment to literacy as a fun-filled activity for librarians to capture children's hearts and minds is evident throughout this amusing DIY book. Presenting essential tips based on the authors' professional experiences, it is also a great reference for the beginner or the burned-out early literacy librarian."—Dr. J Norton, Associate Professor and former director in the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Southern Mississippi

Look Inside

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